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One critical thing to know before you call a locksmith

One critical thing to know before you call a locksmith

When you a need a locksmith, often you're in vulnerable situation. What if it's late at night, and you're alone in a parking lot, but your keys are locked in your car? Or what if you're rushing to the airport on a business trip and you've locked all your keys inside your house? You need a locksmith to help you out right away.

So, what do you do? You do a Google search to find a nearby locksmith. Google will use your GPS to direct you to nearby locksmiths and, depending on what time it is, even locksmiths that provide 24-hour service.

Of course, you most likely won't know the locksmith coming to your car or home, so you read their customers' online reviews. That's smart, and it's a great relief when a trustworthy locksmith helps you out.

Unfortunately, there's one important thing to know before you call a locksmith. Scammers are taking advantage of people like you. They're using something we've told you about before called a lead generator. These are sometimes criminal organizations that create fake websites with photos and customer reviews about locksmiths, including their phone numbers.

Those numbers sometimes connect you to scammers. They'll quote you a good price to unlock your door. But, when they arrive, they either create a bigger bill by damaging your lock or charging up to 10 times their estimate because they say the job was more complicated than they thought.

Note: To its credit, Google does keep tabs on scammers and fake lead generators. The problem is scammers just go ahead and create new phony locksmith listings, if Google gets rid of their site. It's proving difficult for Google to keep up.

So, how can you spot a fake locksmith? Keep reading for a few tips to protect yourself from locksmith scams.

Before we tell you how to spot a fake locksmith, here is one tip to ensure you are dealing with a reputable locksmith. Right now, if you don't have a locksmith's phone number saved in your cellphone, make it your business to find a reputable locksmith.

Ask your family and friends for recommendations. Or, visit a nearby locksmith, and ask if they provide 24-hour emergency service. If they do, save their contact information into your cellphone.

Red flags to spot a locksmith scam

Still, you may find yourself in an emergency situation when you need to find a locksmith. Here are nine red flags to be on the lookout for:

1. If you reach a call center or dispatcher and they won't put you in direct contact with their locksmith

2. If they give you an imprecise quote, such as "$100 and up"

3. If the locksmith arrives hours late, suggesting the scammers didn't have an accomplice nearby

4. The locksmith's car has no business signs or temporary signs

5. The locksmith isn't wearing a uniform or name tag

6. He says your lock can't be unlocked, so he drills a hole in your door

7. Locksmith blames the old age of your door, or car, to explain extra charges

8. They only accept cash

9. Locksmith says he's not in charge of pricing, so you have to call the dispatcher back

If you find yourself with a suspicious locksmith at your home or by your car, call the police if you think you're in danger. If decide to pay to get the job done, just to get them away from you, you should the Better Business Bureau when you're in a safe location, to report the scam.

Note: If you've been scammed by a business you found on Google, search Google for "Avoid and report Google scams." Report the scam to Google.

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